Thursday, June 29, 2017

Top Ten Thursday - my blogging journey

This week Tamara at Part Time Working-Hockey Mom is celebrating her blog's five year anniversary so this weeks top ten is all about our own blogging journey - our five year anniversary is in September.

1. Since I started the blog I've published 319 posts.

2. Considering I started the blog to share with family and friends in Australia, the top ten of countries our readers are from is quite interesting:

United States
United Kingdom

3. My long suffering husband has posed with lots of dodgy hats or wigs just for my amusement and to use in the blog - this wig that he put on at Cornbury music festival in 2014 was one of my favourites.

4. I'm not very good at planning my posts and often end up doing them at the last minute. It's a bit like when I used to leave school assignments until they were due - I think I write better with a bit of pressure.

5. I love writing but always worry that I'm not writing in a way that makes sense - looking back at my past posts I can tell when I was most worried about this as the posts sound a bit stilted. When I write like I think, the words flow much better.

6. When I'm writing I tend to think more of what my beloved will think of the post than anyone else. I have to walk a fine line as he lets me get away with quite a lot (see above photo) and I would never want to really embarrass him.

7. My phone is my essential assistant for the blog, as 99% of the pictures that feature in our posts are taken with my phone. So when I change phones every couple of years my first question is always about the quality of camera.

8. I love taking part in blog challenges as it makes me think more creatively and I love coming up with interesting things for different themes.

9. I've discovered so many great blogs since I started ours and it always intrigues me why people may have started their blog.

10. Blogging affects our lives in a lot of ways as whenever we go on holiday one of my first questions is whether or not there is WiFi. When we're enjoying days out I'll be wondering what sort of photos will be the most interesting in the post, and know that even if the day doesn't turn out how we wanted it can still make a great post.

I would love to have more time to spend on blogging but unfortunately we're yet to win the lottery. If you're reading this then I thank you for stopping by and I hope that you continue to visit and share in our (only slightly crazy) lives.

Before you go, pop over to Tamara's blog and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with - click here to visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and thank you for being out there.

Pamela & Ken

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Coffee Chat: Summer to do list.

I love having a chat over coffee, so why don't you grab yourself a hot drink and we can get started. Rory, at Ink Interrupted has asked us what three things are on our summer to do list. 

I've never had a to do list for summer so this is an interesting question to answer - I'm used to having work to do lists rather than personal. The other thing that is different about this summer is that we will be having three weeks of winter whilst we're in Australia, so keeping warm could be one of my things to do. When I tell people here in Scotland that we're going to Australia for a holiday they instantly think that it's going to be lovely and warm - it's that stereotypical vision that people have of my homeland, sun, sand, and surf, forgetting that it's winter there now. We'll be wearing lots of layers.

Lots more exploring and days of fun is a definite! I would really like to do the walk we discovered when we went to the Ancient Woodland near Dufftown - my only problem would be that I had a little mishap a few weeks ago that injured my leg, so I might have to set my walking goals slightly lower this summer. (It wasn't anything exciting, clumsy me just fell as I was getting out of the shower).

I love street art so would really like to get over to Aberdeen, on the north east coast of Scotland, to explore the art that is there. I have a soft spot for Aberdeen as it's the city my Granddaddy lived in before he moved to Australia. I like walking around the city and imagining what his life was like when he lived there.

My biggest hope for the summer is that the Scottish Highlands don't have their warmest days whilst we're down under in the cold - that would be just our luck.

What are your plans for summer? Do you have certain things that you really want to do or are you just going to see where the spirit takes you. Before you go, pop over to Rory's blog and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for their to do list - Click Here to Visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and have a wonderful week.

Pamela & Ken

P.S: Coffee Chat is having a summer break but don't worry, coffee will still feature in a lot of my posts.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Flashback Friday: Budapest Food and Churches

We're still in Budapest (2014) and of course my beloved would find a car to admire. This is a Trabant which is a car manufactured in East Germany and my own personal car expert has said it's got a two stroke engine and is made of a cotton and resin product called duroplast. There are a lot of them in Budapest so Ken was in seventh heaven checking out the classic cars.

Me with shorter hair and the city behind me.

This is what the street signs looked like  - it's not an easy language to pronounce or understand.

A couple of the more political and historical statues that dot the city.

There are lots of markets in Budapest. This was a small one that we found and it had lots of interesting stalls including lots of chillies which are very popular. It was also where I snatched a scarf out from under the nose of another Australian. I'd been admiring a scarf from afar and as I headed towards it a fellow Aussie picked it up to admire it - when she put it down to look at another I quickly grabbed it and bought it before she knew what was happening.

This little lady was selling dolls near one of the churches we visited - she's got a beautiful face and smile.

This man was displaying this bird of prey - I felt really sorry for the bird as it was a really warm day and there were lots of tourists milling around.

On a high point on the Buda side of the city is the beautiful Matthias Church which was built in the mid 13th century under the orders of King Bela IV. During the Turkish occupation of Buda the church was turned into a mosque until the city was regained over 100 years later by Christian troops. It's a bit like the city itself, it has had many different cultures rule it.

The inside of the church is stunningly beautiful with patterns and paintings everywhere - it's definitely not plain like the inside of lots of Scottish churches.

We did an open top bus tour of the city as I always find that they are a really useful way of learning a lot about a place in a short space of time, and you can get on and off whenever you like. This is Heroes Square which has the tomb of the unknown soldier in the centre of it - the grave that represents all Hungarian solders killed in war who are unidentified or missing.

I've included this photo as I think it's actually a couple of hungarian words that most of us can read and understand (or is that just me).

At the end of the Vaci Utca, the main tourist street, there was a really great food court full of stalls cooking and selling all sorts of things. One thing there wasn't a shortage of was meat, so thank goodness this was in our pre vegetarian days!!

What we ended up having - it was nicer than it looks.

This man walked past with his dog in his bag - the dog looks a bit like an ewok in Star Wars.

This stall was selling giant pretzels, all with different flavoured coatings. I'd never had a pretzel this big so of course we had to buy one to share.

We went for one with chocolate sprinkles all over it.

In the middle of all the food stalls there was a little stage and we were entertained whilst we sat and ate our dinner. These two guys were really good and actually sang some of their songs in English.

One of the unusual foods that we discovered were chimney cakes, or Kürtoskalács. They are cooked on a spit over coals and then covered with a sweet sugar mix or nuts and they are scrummy.

As you can tell we like trying new foods when we're on holiday as it gives you a taste of the country you're visiting, and why go on holiday if you're just going to stick to familiar food.

One of the nights we were in Budapest we went to a classical recital in St Stephen's Basilica which is the grandest church in the city.

It's another thing that we like to do if we can, having been to concerts in churches in Croatia, Barcelona, and of course the UK. The architects of sacred buildings know what they're doing when it comes to acoustics and the sound is amazing. The inside of the Basilica is incredibly ornate with decorations everywhere.

On our way back to the hotel after the concert we stopped in a bar for a drink and we really liked this wall of clocks that catered to many different nationalities.

That's it for today and there is one Budapest flashback to go. Look out for it as it will feature me driving a car, which for those that know me is a very rare event.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and this week try a food you've never tried before.

Pamela & Ken

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Top Ten Thursday: Tasting a Place?

This weeks top ten Thursday is all about those foods that when we eat them the taste transports us to another place. My list is going to be a mixture of places and people, as I think that food can remind us of people as well.

1. Egg and Bacon Pie. This is a recipe from my mum and it is so simple but so delicious and whenever I used to cook it just the smell alone would transport me home to the farm I grew up on. It would also remind me of how my brothers and I would fight over the left over pieces. It's purely puff pastry, bacon, eggs, and a little bit of seasoning. I made the one above for me and Ken hence the heart decorating it.

2. Chicken Shawarma. There was a man with a cart in the compound I lived on in Saudi Arabia who sold shawarmas garnished with chips (french fries, not crisps) and chilli sauce. I know, its sounds awful, but it was scrummy. Flat bread, a token bit of salad, chicken, chips, and sauce - just what you need after a long shift in the hospital. I know I'll never have this again but just the thought of it has me back there.

3. Pavlova. When I was little I didn't like this dessert and I'll never understand why as it's delicious, so this actually reminds me of being given jelly whilst everyone else indulged in pavlova. I'm not sure when I realised it was good but now I make it myself. (and I don't care what the Kiwis say, it's an Australian invention).

4. Marshmallows. These transport me back to youth group weekends at Hellyar Beach in Tasmania. We used to play a game called chubby bunny where you had to see how many marshmallows you could fit in your mouth whilst still being able to say chubby bunny. It will probably come as no surprise to some people that I won with a total of 19 marshmallows in my mouth.

5. Marmalade. Another thing that I didn't really like when I was young so I used to try and get just the juice on my knife rather than slices of peel. This reminds my of my nanna who made marmalade which my dad loved - the smell of the oranges cooking down was lovely.

6. Plum Pudding. I know it's not the most attractive looking thing, but I've never quite perfected how to get it out of the cloth it cooks in for four hours. This is my mum's recipe and all of us children know if mum had used a different recipe - this was the one we wanted. It's a taste of home and the only way to eat it is with loads of runny cream.

7. Waffles. The first time I ever had waffles was at Disneyland in California so now I always associate them with America. It was a waffle in the shape of Mickey Mouse's head, covered with strawberries and cream - yum.

8. Anzac Biscuits. These are a biscuit that originated in the First World War when Australian women wanted to send a biscuit to the troops that wouldn't spoil on the journey and were originally called Soldier's biscuits. In our family we called them Brian's biscuits as I think he (my brother) brought the recipe home from either school or Sunday school, so these biscuits make me think of him.

9. Instant Noodles. The smell alone reminds me of living in the nurses home whilst I was doing my nurse training, as we used to live on quick and simple foods.

10. Mint Slices. These are Australia to me. My favourite biscuits in the whole world and they don't sell them in the UK!! Everytime we go home for a holiday I always come back with several packets in our luggage and my lovely mum often includes a packet with our Christmas present.

Now I'm hungry, and realising that I've got a dreadful sweet tooth. I'm glad that only two meat dishes made it onto the list and no, it hasn't made me want to eat them again.

What are the foods that you associate with a place? Before you go, pop over to Tamara's blog and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with on their lists - Click Here To Visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and enjoy one of your favourite foods this week.

Pamela & Ken

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mystery Blogger Award

Thank you to Tamara at Part-time Working Hockey Mom for nominating me for the Mystery Blogger Award. I first came across Tamara during a blog challenge last year and I now take part in her weekly challenge Top Ten Thursdays which is great fun - check out her blog as you'll really enjoy it. Interestingly Tamara and I both started our blogs in 2012.

This award was created by Okoto Enigma as another way for bloggers to link up and share great blogs that others may not have discovered.

The rules of the award are:
  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog.
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  6. You have to nominate 10 - 20 people.
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).
  9. Share a link to your best post(s).
Okay, I've completed the first four rules so now I have to tell you three things about myself. What to share that my readers don't already know?

1. When I was ten years old I fell over rollerskating and broke my arm - the break was right in the bend of my elbow so they couldn't plaster it and just had to keep it in a sling for weeks. Luckily it was my left arm and I did manage to improvise and still play snooker by resting the cue on my broken arm. Also, we went to Wynyard airport to see the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester arrive in Tasmania and because I had my arm in a sling one of the entourage stopped to speak to me.

2. I really can't stand Handel's Zadok The Priest!! I think it stems from being in a choir and trying to learn it just after we'd done the Messiah, which is a very hard act to follow. I've never met anyone else who doesn't like it and it's very popular, being played at every coronation of a British monarch since it was composed in 1727, and also featuring in tv ads fairly regularly. Drives Me Mad!

3. During my life I have called 15 different buildings home but despite that I still hate the process of moving

(I also have a bit of a coffee obsession but I think everyone knows that)
(Online stock image)
The blogs (only seven, sorry) that I would like to nominate (in no particular order), and hopefully encourage you to visit and read them are :

Angels Bark - I discovered Michele's blog during the 2016 A to Z challenge and love reading all her posts whether they be about life, dogs, or more challenge posts.

Southern Graves - another blog I discovered in last years A to Z. Stephanie is a girl after my own heart as she documents graveyards through photographs and research.

Writer in Transit - Michelle is a discovery from this years A to Z. Her blog is very positive and she takes part in the We Are The World Blogfest which highlights the good in the world.

Ink Interrupted - I'm not sure how I stumbled across Rory's blog, but I take part in her challenge which is all about having a chat over coffee, with Rory setting the topic each week.

The Multicolored Diary - another from this years A to Z. Zalka describes herself as a storyteller and is currently writing about folktales from around the world.

My Life in Retirement - Denise states that she is a "full time life observer" in retirement and I discovered her in this years A to Z.

Positive Letters....Inspirational Stories - Hilary's blog always teaches me something as she writes about life with the history and trivia behind it. And yes, another blog I discovered during the A to Z.

(I hope you're getting the hint that the A to Z challenge is a great thing to do if you want to connect with other bloggers across the world).

Now I need to answer the five questions that Tamara posed in her Mystery Blogger post.

Q: How did you decide to start your blog?
A: My first ever post in September 2012 was entitled Reason For Blog Title (it's short so it won't take you long to check out) and I guess I started the blog both as a record for us but also for my family and friends on the opposite side of the world.

Q: If you were a fruit, which would you be and why?
A: Dragonfruit - because they're a bit crazy looking (and pink) on the outside but soft and sweet once you get past the weird exterior.

Q: Show me your favourite purse/bag/backpack?
A: I have lots of bags of loveliness but thought I would share this one with you that my husband found for me in a charity shop and even got the strap made longer for me - it's the perfect festival bag as it fits all the things you need when you're out all day enjoying music. It's embroidered with an elephant in the middle.

Q: Chicken or Beef?
A: Neither as I'm a pescatarian (fish eating vegetarian).

Q: What are three of your best traits?
A: Hate questions like this but being a good girl I will play along.(a) I think I'm a good listener, (b) a good sense of humour (though a little strange) and I'm told I have a lovely smile, (c) compassionate and empathetic - I hate seeing injustices against others.

The five questions I would like my nominees to answer (if they feel like it) are:

1. Do you plan your blog posts ahead or just write them when the mood strikes?
2. Favourite type of chocolate?
3. Cats or dogs?
4. Who was your favourite singer when you were a teenager?
5. If you could go back in time to any era, which would you choose and why?

Final rule is sharing links to my best post(s). I've chosen three for different reasons.

The first is the one that has had the most views and was posted in November 2016: Top Ten Thursdays - Plans

The second was the most difficult blog post to write as it was after the death of a dear friend: Goodbye to Macclesfield and a Very Special Friend

The third is one of my favourite posts as it's about one of my most favourite things in the world, and that's my beloved: Our secrets to a happy (crazy) marriage

As I finish this post I encourage you to visit the blogs of the people I've nominated and to visit Tamara's blog, Part-time Working Hockey Mom. Right, I think I've earned a coffee now.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and do something nice for someone else this week.

Pamela & Ken

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Coffee Chat: Guilty Pleasures

I love having a chat over coffee, so why don't you grab yourself a hot drink and we can get started. Rory at Ink Interrupted has asked us about those things we love which we're maybe a little ashamed of. Those films, songs, tv shows, and celebrity crushes that are our guilty little secrets - admit it, we all have them.

I admit it, I have lots of guilty little pleasures and some of those I'll take to my grave (though if you tortured my beloved long enough he may give them up). I remember a conversation years ago in Tasmania between me, Ken, and my two (at the time) teenage nieces. My beloved, despite being thirteen years older than me, is very up with all the modern and cool music and was discussing this with my nieces. When I commented that I hadn't heard of several of the groups, my nieces asked me to name a few of my favourites - when I'd finished they both just shook their heads and said my name in a tone that clearly said I was a lost cause when it came to cool music.

My first guilty pleasure that I'm going to share with you is a tv show called the Wotwots. It's a children's show that was filmed in New Zealand and I discovered it one morning when I was up early for work several years ago (I should add here that I don't have any children so had no excuse to be watching this). It's such a guilty pleasure that even now, years after it stopped being shown, Ken and I still speak in Wotwot to each other every now and then.

As you can imagine from the earlier discussion about my music tastes, I have a lot of dodgy guilty pleasures - my beloved thinks I'm a lost cause. I'm an 80's girl and love music that you can sing along loudly with, and the 80's were great for that. The song I'm going to share is one that I still know all the words to and as soon as I hear it I have to sing. 

Okay (deep breath) the song is: I Think We're Alone Now by Tiffany. I can hear the laughter from here. Here's how sad I am, we even had an 80's song, Kylie and Jason's Especially for You, as we left the church at our wedding!!

When it comes to films my guilty pleasure is big disaster films which my beloved hates. Films like Armageddon, 2012, Day After Tomorrow, and Independance Day are so good - basically end of the world type thing. Doesn't matter how many times I watch them, I still enjoy them every day - our second dance at our wedding was Aerosmith's Don't Want to Miss a Thing from the movie Armageddon.  On days when I'm needing to watch a film that makes me feel good I nearly always put on the first Harry Potter film as it just transports me into that magical world - wouldn't we all like to receive our letters from Hogwarts. 

I have loads of celebrity crushes that would come under the guilty pleasures category, but the one I'm going to admit to is Sam Elliott who gets better with age. If you don't know who he is, Click Here to see his IMDb listing. I loved him in Fatal Beauty (with Whoopi Goldberg), Road House (they kill him off), and Tombstone (he plays Wyatt Earp's brother).

Okay, I think I've shared enough guilty pleasures for one day and have lost all credibility in the taste stakes (okay, maybe I didn't have any). Before you go, why don't you pop over to Rory's blog and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with - Click Here to Visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and indulge in one of your own guilty pleasures this week.

Pamela & Ken

P.S: This isn't a guilty pleasure as everyone knows I'm a bit of a crazy cat lady - as I haven't included one for a while, here's a picture of Princess Cookie Cat looking gorgeous.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Flashback Friday: Sightseeing & Statues in Budapest 2014

It's back to Budapest in 2014 for this Friday post - it's a great city and I would encourage you to visit if you ever get the chance.

On the opposite side of the river to our hotel sits the castle district and the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular which has been in use since 1870. It's a short journey but provides amazing views out over the Danube.

When you get off the funicular, to the right is the Sandor Palace which is the official residence of the Hungarian president. Due to this there are guards on duty outside the palace during the day - when it was time for them to leave a whole troop of soldiers arrived and did a little marching routine which the two on duty joined and then marched off into the distance.

As soon as the guards were out of site all the silly tourists took turns posing as soldiers in the sentry boxes (of course we had to do it, we're tourists).

Whatever country I'm in you know I'm going to find a cat to have a chat to. This one was so laid back, relaxing in the sun with hundreds of tourists walking past.

Outside the royal palace there were lots of fun things going on such as archery practice and there was a spot where you could dress up in royal robes, a crown, and pose on a couple of thrones. Do you think we look suitably royal?

Time for a cake break. I had this decadent looking cream puffy thing - on the menu below, Ken's finger is helpfully pointing out the hungarian for what I ate.

Here's my beloved with his exciting looking dessert - he's got his happy sugar rush face on.

Loved this old iron sign for an antique shop.

There are lots of very traditional statues around Budapest and also a whole park outside the city where they've rehomed all the communist statues - those are for another post. There are also some more interesting and also very moving statues around the city.

This is Attila Jozsef who was a Hungarian poet and he sits on the steps overlooking the river which he wrote about in his poems.

These two statues really amused us. The fat policeman on the left has a very shiny belly as lots of people rub it, supposedly for good luck. I liked how this little girl was studying him very seriously. On the right is the strangest statue we discovered, and yes, your eyes aren't deceiving you, it is Peter Falk as Columbo. I've tried to find out why, and there seems to be some really tenuous link in that Peter Falk did have possible Hungarian roots and the area this statue is in is the Falk district - no proof of a direct link to Budapest has been confirmed. I think it's just one of those decisions that a local council have made when they've been out for lunch with a few glasses of wine - at least it makes people smile.

The next two statues are the moving ones. The first depicting a bag left on a bench is to remember Raoul Wallenberg, a young Swedish diplomat who (as the inscription says) during the war issued Swedish protective passports to Jews. Thousands of people were saved through his personal courage, knowledge and creativity. Raoul Wallenberg was born in 1912. On 17 January 1945 he was abducted by the Soviet Red Army. His fate remains unknown.

This statue of shoes commemorates a really terrible period in Budapest's history. During the second world war the Arrow Cross Militiamen (pro-german & anti-semitic) would round up Jews, make them line up along the banks of the Danube facing the river, and then execute them by shooting. The bodies would fall into the river and be washed away. There are sixty shoes showing that no one was spared as there are children's shoes, working peoples shoes, and high class shoes. Visitors to this spot on the river bank leave flowers and candles in memory of those who died.

Final picture of today's post is me putting my hand into the Danube - I couldn't go all that way and not touch the very famous river.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and I wonder what famous river you'd like to put your hand in.

Pamela & Ken